When Shaun White, the three-time Olympic Gold Medalist in snowboarding, decided to retire from competition after the 2022 Olympic Games, he left quite a legacy behind. He was a five-time Olympian, had racked up 18 medals in snowboarding at the Winter X Games, and had won 10 ESPY’s
After spending the last eighteen months building out Whitespace, his snowboard and apparel company, he has decided to dive into the liquor world. But, unlike the recent wave of other celebrities who have launched their own brands and bottles, he is doing what he has always done: something off the beaten path. He is partnering with High West Distillery to help drive awareness of their Protect the West campaign, which aims to donate $1 million to several conservation and environmental groups.
“After I retired, I took a break and thought long about where I wanted to focus my attention. I had been competing professionally for over two decades with few breaks,” said White. “I have always enjoyed High West’s whiskeys, so when I heard about their Protect the West initiative, it got my attention. Over the years, I have seen the changes happening outdoors, where I spend so much time surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. When the chance came to be a part of something trying to make a change, I knew I wanted to get on board.”
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“You don’t have to look too far outside the doors of our Saloon or Distillery to see the West is in danger,” said Daniel Schear, General Manager of High West. “Like Shaun, High West is a team made up of adventurers who appreciate all the West has to offer, which is why the Protect the West initiative hits home for all of us. Our passion for this cause is only growing, and we’re honored to have Shaun’s support in driving more urgency and action.”
Launched in 2022, its Protect the West campaign partners with three well-known organizations: American Prairie, Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and POW Protect Our Winters. It was the connection to POW that grabbed White’s attention. Founded by freestyle snowboarding legend Jeremy Jones, the organization seeks to create an interconnected community of athletes, scientists, business leaders, and individuals to advance non-partisan policies that address the effects of climate change and work to make a change.
“Everyone needs to raise their voices and get those in charge to pay attention,” says White. “I have been a big supporter of POW since Jeremey launched it. As a kid, I used to be able to get on the slopes so much earlier, and nowadays, the season has been pushed back. The snowfall amounts are crazy these days. Either we get nothing, or we get pounded. Then, the wildland fires spark up as soon as winter leaves, blackening the hillsides and causing more issues with the snow. Something has to change, and I am happy to do my part and hopefully introduce folks to some good whiskey.”
White announced a $100,000 donation to POW from High West to kick off the partnership. Moving forward, the brand will use its Protect the West initiative to drive consumer awareness of its whiskeys and secure placements. White will be a centerpiece of its advertorial campaigns built around this message. A well-known athlete with a broad reach, White said in an interview with Forbes that he hopes that this is just the beginning of his association with High West.
Where their partnership heads moving forward is unknown for now. But, landing one of the most recognizable faces in winter sports and plugging him into causes that outdoor enthusiasts are passionate about should pay immediate dividends for High West.